Sutton Bridge grocer to efficient fighting man

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A Sutton Bridge grocer was living proof that this ‘nation of shopkeepers’ could produce efficient fighting men.

Driver C W Harrison, son of Mr H Harrison, of Princess Street, had been home on nine days’ sick leave in 1917.

A grocer before the war, the man had “led a somewhat strenuous life” during his military career.

Having enlisted in 1914, he had been trained in Ireland and then sent to the Dardanelles. While there, he was thrown from his horse and dislocated a shoulder, which meant a trip to hospital at Alexandria.

He was then sent to Mesopotamia to help in the fight for the relief of Kut, at times fighting waist-deep in water.

After the fall of Kut, he crossed the Arabian desert towards Baghdad and while fighting there he was subjected to “terrific heat”, fighting in temperatures of 113oF (45oC) in the shade.

He was wounded again when he and three companions sought a night’s rest under a transport. They had not been there long when a shell struck them, knocking the transport to pieces and killing his three companions. He was blown into the air and either a fragment of shell struck him or his head came into contact with something when he fell. He lay there for ten hours before being found and sent to the base, and then on to Deolali Hospital in India.

He had a large piece of bone taken out of his skull and, after recovering, had been brought back to the UK. After a brief spell at home, was in hospital.

The report said: “His record is certainly one to be proud of, and shows up the spirit of the British lads, who, if they are a ‘nation of shopkeepers’, can become efficient fighting men.”

Mr Harrison had two other sons in the service, Percy in the RHA, and Gus in the Machine Gun Section of the Cambridgeshire Territorials.